Places to visit in North Macedonia

Our plan is to use a long weekend to take a tour in Macedonia and visit places that we have not visited together ever. Because it seems to us that there are still many nice places to visit in North Macedonia besides Skopje and Ohrid. After a few road trips crossing Macedonia, several weddings in different cities, and after so many times at Nace’s birthplace – Strumica, after an amazing tour around the Tikves region wineries and the magical Matka canyon, it’s time to find something new.

So, we’re headed to large and small towns in search of beautiful views, interesting stories, and delicious treats. We pass the Stanke Lisichkovo-Delchevo border and we notice the new name of the country. Welcome to North Macedonia! Should we count it as a new country in our list?

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Prespa Lake

Kalimanci Lake

We drive past the town of Makedonska Kamenitsa and continue along a beautiful lake. We decide to let the drone fly, just so to see incredible views from every angle. A last-minute stop along the way, but full of so much beauty. The sunsets, it is time to move to Prilep.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Kalimanci lake

Prilep

At Prilep, we have a not very successful mission – to drink the local beer Krali Marko. It is produced in Prilepska Pivarnica, where the delicious beer Zlaten Dab is made. We can not find a place that serves Krali Marko, so we’ll have to focus on the Golden Dab.

Still, we are in the town of Krali Marko, and we can’t miss a selfie with his monument when we arrive in the darkness of the evening. The city center is unexpectedly charming with the old houses that seem to be waiting for a stronger breeze to break down. Some facades are new, they advertise shops, restaurants. In the few straight narrow streets, you just want to get lost. In the new part of the city, we encounter several innovative modern statues. At night they are lighted in different colors.

In the light, it is even more interesting. It is a market day that does not restrict trade to the official market only. Everything is sold in the streets, just a matter of taste and bargaining. We drink coffee at one goose (literally, Choche) and we are considering buying a dried pepper, photogenic on an old bicycle.

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Find a place to stay in Prilep.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Prilep and Krali Marko statue

Markovi Kuli (Marko’s Towers)

In spite of our navigation, we dash through narrow streets in one of the outback districts of Prilep. At one point, we are already off-roading a very dirt road, the Honda is like a small boat on rough seas. We don’t feel like dealing with flat tires so we stop. The view of the city is fantastic, and Marko’s Towers proudly stand out over us.

A group of students walks along the dirt road, climbing up. We are too lazy so we fly the drone to show us the towers. The views do not disappoint and someday we will come and heroically subdue the mountain – yet we must adhere to the style of Krali Marko.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Markovi Kuli (Marko's Towers)

Treskavec Monastery

Somehow very close, but far from Markovi Kuli, you can find the Treskavec Monastery. The views from above are incredible! If we had more time to rock the dirt road or we were in a mood for climbing, we would have gone and seen this monastery hidden in the rocks. It remains for the next time.

Krushevo

We are heading to the mountain town of Krushevo. It starts snowing. Google drives us through the narrow, steep streets of Krushevo, we enter the backyard of a man washing his car. The man is not surprised – obviously, this “trick” is common. He explains to us how to avoid climbing stairs by car and how to reach the main sights of the city – the Tose Proeski Memorial House and the Ilinden Monument.

We find a traditional cozy restaurant to get warm – snowflakes are drifting, and rain is drizzling. We order everything vegetarian from the menu, to compensate for the lack of tavče gravče (every self-respecting Macedonian restaurant should serve it!). The waiter has his doubts that we won’t be full of that veg food only, but in the end, we prove him wrong, we literally roll down the street.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Krushevo

Tose Proeski Memorial House

Krushevo is the hometown of a great Macedonian musician – Tose Proeski. Unfortunately, fate has decided to take him from this world very young, and his music is still enjoyed by thousands of people on the Balkans and beyond. The memorial house is in the shape of a big cross if viewed from above – Tose was a very religious person. We recall the things he had done and played his last album (released after his death) to enjoy his wonderful voice for yet another time.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Krushevo, Tose Proeski Memorial House

Ilinden (Makedonium)

The monument with a futuristic cosmic shape was erected in the heights above Krushevo 30 years after the Ilinden Uprising. We walk around it but it’s locked. Anyway, who wants to enter a top tourist site on Saturday? Instead, we’re releasing the drone to fight the snowflakes and take pictures of the Makedonium from everywhere.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Ilinden Makedonium

Bitola

As the second-largest city in Macedonia, Bitola has created some expectations. We walk on the main pedestrian street, restaurants quickly begin to fill. In the dark, it is difficult to capture the charm of the Old town, so we go to dinner with friends in another place. We leave Honda and take a taxi so we can try some new wines.

In the morning, the street is empty (Saturday night still going strong), but we can look at the old facades, the mosques, the churches, and the squares. The ancient city of Heraclea remains for the next time because now nature is calling.

Find accommodation in Bitola here.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Bitola

Pelister National Park

We’re climbing up along a winding asphalted mountain road. Fortunately, there is no ice and snow on the road. Pelister National Park is a great place for walking and hiking in the summer. So far, we will enjoy the green views, the fresh air, and the hot chocolate at Molica Hotel. It turns out that the Bitola people like to enjoy Sunday coffee with a panoramic view of the hotel or simply walk around the area. There is a ski lift and tireless skiers are running down the slope.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Pelister National Park

Lake Prespa

This is perhaps the most pleasant surprise here. The sun is scorching and we approach the crystal clear waters of the lake. We get lost a few times, then stop at the beach and walk around. It’s windy, but the view of the water and the snow-capped peaks takes you to a very surreal place.

The drone is able to fly half a kilometer upwards and land with no issues. The frames are incredible (maybe we will process them soon). We find an abandoned beach where boats and fishermen hang around, reeds burning nearby.

We heard the local businesses in the area have united and taken action to clean up and revive the place. We hope they make this area of the lake attractive so more people would visit it and keep it clean. At sunset, we sit in the only establishment that is open during the low season and enjoy salads and roasted mushrooms.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Prespa Lake

Royal Winery Queen Maria

We decide to pamper ourselves by staying at the Royal Winery Queen Maria, nearby Demir Kapija. The rooms are furnished in a royal style, the restaurant now offers tasting menus with different wines, and the peacocks are still cocky and walk around like the proud hosts of the place.

We recommend you to try the wines and the restaurant of the complex, staying there is a kind of affordable luxury. Book Royal Winery Queen Maria and pamper yourself a little.

Винен туризъм в Тиквеш, Македония - Queen Maria

Archaeological complex Stobi

We did not imagine we would have a whole archeological complex available to us alone. We walk through the ancient city of the Paeonians, who were at their blossom during the Roman Empire. We are looking at interesting mosaics, but the so-called Peacock is still in “winter coverage”. We go through the theater, various basilicas, residences, and even bathrooms. It’s great to be alone with Stobi’s ruins.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Stobi archaeological complex

Veles

The town of Veles we will explore the next time. It is interesting to visit the capital of fake news. The city has developed businesses for millions by creating fake news to manipulate people around the world. Whether people in the city are proud of this, we will find out when we talk to them.

Stip

We go through Stip with a very clear goal – to eat pastrmajlija in the capital of the pastrmajlija. First, we get lost in search of the “center” and the specialized food establishments, then we find one very casual place next to the main road. Macedonian pizza is one of our favorite things to eat and even a random unpretentious place in Stip manages to protect the honor of the capital of the pastrmajlija. We are now ready to hit the road to Stanke Lisichkovo and Bulgaria.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - pastrmalija in Stip

Kratovo

The town of Kratovo is situated on top of an extinguished volcano crater, therefore the name. It’s one of those cute little towns with old Macedonian architecture – two-story houses with overhanging verandas, medieval towers, and Ottoman bridges. You can test your stamina hiking up and down or just enjoy a meal near the buzzing rivers.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Kratovo

Osogovo Monastery

The Osogovo Monastery with the church of St. Joachim Osogovski is located near Kriva Palanka, only 10 km away from the Bulgarian border. It’s beautifully carved with frescoes and you can easily spend some time around the church, the passages, and the dormitories. They organized art colonies and summer schools and seminars. If you’re in the area, drop by for some mesmerizing views of the monastery and the surrounding green woods.

Places to visit in North Macedonia - Osogovo Monastery

Places with funny names

Undoubtedly, the big plus of road trips is the funny names you encounter. On this trip to North Macedonia, there were definitely good encounters.

Долно Дупени и плаж Дупени (has something to do with buttocks)

Кривогаштани (has something to do with pants, not in the right position)

Подмочани (has something to do with wet and no toilet nearby)

Are you inspired to travel to the gem of the Balkans? What are your favorite places to visit in North Macedonia? Let us know in the comments below.

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